A working group was set up earlier this year, led by Mr Justice Popplewell, to review the current rules and practice and make recommendations for potential reform of the procedures for factual witness evidence in the Business and Property Courts (the Chancery Division, Commercial Court and Technology and Construction Court). It has launched an online survey seeking views from court users on whether the current rules on witness statements ought to remain in their present form and be enforced more rigorously or whether the rules themselves need to be changed and, if so, how.

The alternatives set out in the survey include some radical alternatives such as: doing away with witness statements and returning to oral examination-in-chief; moving to pre-trial depositions; and (perhaps most controversially) lifting privilege in the production of witness statements so as to require a note be taken of oral communications with the witness, with all communications and drafts to be disclosed to the other side, or permitting the opposing party to conduct or be present at the interviewing of witnesses.

The closing date for responses is Friday 23rd November.